ArchMage

ArchMage: A Magical Dueling Story Engine

The Fallen Empire is a place of fantasy, and of magic. Caladonian wizards cast magic through their understanding of the elements. But instead of the Air-Earth-Fire-Water usual to Occidental fantasy, Caladonians view the world as Earth-Fire-Metal-Water-Wood (like Chinese philosophy on our world). The basic relationships of the elements to each other, and to the five principal planets of Chinese astrology, are authentic (although they have been simplified). In ArchMage, you are a wizard of Caladonia, pursuing knowledge and power. Success increases understanding; failure often enriches farmland.

ArchMage tells stories of magical dueling between wizards learned in the lore of the elements.

Part One: Apprenticeship

Each ArchMage participant creates a wizard persona by following a step-by-step process. There is a limit of two active wizards per person. If a person has two wizards at least one must be styled below Adept, and both must be of different Orders.

1. Your wizard has five scores corresponding to the five elements. Each score--Earth, Fire, Metal, Water, and Wood--starts with 15% from your basic magical education.

2. Pick a name, and roll a d100 for the circumstances of your birth. This will influence your magical potential.

  Birth Influences Table
  ======================
  01-16  Add 35% to Wood
  17-32  Add 35% to Fire
  33-48  Add 35% to Earth
  49-64  Add 35% to Metal
  65-80  Add 35% to Water
  81-95  Two influences.  Roll twice rerolling 81+ and duplicates.
         Add 20% to each indicated element instead of 35%.
  96-00  No special influence; add 8% to all five element scores.

3. Now select one of the five Orders of Magic for your wizard. This does not have to be related to your birth or current ratings.

  Orders of Magic    colours       elements  specialties
  ================
  Order of Mercury (Black Mages):   water     protection
  Order of Venus   (White Mages):   metal     interference
  Order of Mars    (Red Mages):     fire      attacking
  Order of Jupiter (Azure Mages):   wood      creation
  Order of Saturn  (Yellow Mages):  earth     healing

4. You now get 35 MP (Magic Points) to spend to raise your element scores. As scores get higher (to a maximum of 73%), it costs more MP to increase them. Note: You =must= spend at least 18 of these 35 MP in the element listed for your Order of Magic.

  Buying Scores
  =============
  1 MP per point, 16% to 45%
  2 MP per point, 46% to 55%
  4 MP per point, 56% to 65%
  8 MP per point, 66% to 73%

  So a wizard raising a score from 35 to 50% will spend 20 points:
  10 MP for the 10% raise from 35 to 45%, and 10 more MP for the 5%
  raise from 45 to 50%.
5. A wizard who completes these four steps is now an Acolyte with 150 total Magic Points, five skills ranging from 15% minimum to 61% current maximum, and is ready to enter the universe.
  Summary of Initial MPs
  ======================
  75 MP basic education--15 to each of the five scores
  40 MP from influences of birth
  18 MP to score of selected Order of Magic
  17 MP freely allocated among the five scores
        ...equals 150 total MPs.

Part Two: Let the Fireworks Begin!

Each duel in ArchMage is between two wizards of two participants, for any or no reason. Each wizard starts with their five recorded element scores. They will go up and down on a temporary basis in a match, but will start anew at the recorded level in a new match.

Matches may be fought on three levels:

  • To first blood: The first wizard to reach 0 in any score loses.
  • To subdual: The first wizard to be reduced to 0 in any two scores loses.
  • To the death: The first wizard to have all five scores reduced to 0 dies.
Unless agreed otherwise, "to subdual" is normal.

Wizards take turns casting spells and counterspells, as outlined in Part Three, until one or the other loses.

Mulligan Rule: Each wizard may claim one "mulligan", or re-roll, at any time during a single duel. Only one's own roll may be rerolled, never that of one's opponent. And a mulligan may only be claimed for a roll using the specialty score of that wizard's Order, or for a spell or counterspell which is a specialty of that Order.

A mulligan must be claimed promptly to be used, and the wizard is bound by the reroll result even if it is worse than the original!

  (Example:  A Red Mage, or member of the Order of Mars, may only use
  a mulligan to affect a roll using the Fire score, =or= a roll for
  an attacking spell.)

Part Three: Spell and Counterspell

The turns in ArchMage proceed in a regular cycle:

   Turn Cycle
   ==========
   First Wizard announces spell
      (Classes allowed:  Attacking, Creation, Healing, Interference)
   First Wizard rolls dice for spell
   Second Wizard announces counterspell
      (Classes allowed:  Creation, Interference, Protection)
   Second Wizard rolls dice for counterspell
   Damage to Second Wizard, if any, is recorded

   Second Wizard announces spell
   Second Wizard rolls dice for spell
   First Wizard announces counterspell
   First Wizard rolls dice for counterspell
   Damage to First Wizard, if any, is recorded

This cycle repeats until the agreed victory condition is obtained-- first blood, subdual, or death.

There are seventeen spells in ArchMage. Each has a percentage chance to succeed based on the casting wizard's score with one of the five elements. When it's time to roll dice, roll a one-hundred-sided die. [On Genie and Delphi, for example the command is /rol 1d100.]

If the roll is less than or equal to the proper element's score, the spell or counterspell succeeds. Otherwise, it fails. In general, most rolls work like the TV game show "The Price is Right": you want to roll as close as possible to the skill value without going over.

A roll of 100 always fails, even if creation magic raised the score to 100 or more.

Part Four: The Grimoire

Attacking Spells (Spell only, never counterspell)
=================================================
Earthpower--drinks Water    Roll:  Earth
Firepower--melts Metal      Roll:  Fire
Metalpower--chops Wood      Roll:  Metal
Waterpower--quenches Fire   Roll:  Water
Woodpower--eats Earth       Roll:  Wood

A successful attacking spell can damage the opponent. The amount of damage is equal to the number rolled. However, Walls currently active can reduce this damage, and a Shield or appropriate creation magic cast as a counterspell might also do so.

Creation Spells (Spell or counterspell)
=======================================
Make Earth from Fire        Roll:  Fire
Make Fire from Wood         Roll:  Wood
Make Metal from Earth       Roll:  Earth
Make Water from Metal       Roll:  Metal
Make Wood from Water        Roll:  Water

If a creation succeeds, add the number rolled--or any lesser whole number--to the score of the element being created. Also, subtract the added amount from the element score you rolled against. If this was a counterspell, then subtract the damage rolled by the opponent from the score of the attacked element.

(Example: You cast Make Fire from Wood. Your Wood score is 30, and you roll a 24. You may now add 1-24 points to Fire, but must subtract the same number of points from Wood.)

Healing Spell (Spell only, never counterspell)
==============================================
Heal                        Roll:  Highest unmodified element score

A healing spell may only be cast on your first turn after one of your element scores was reduced by the opponent's attack spell. If it succeeds, add the number you rolled to the element which was damaged, but you may not add more points than the amount by which that element score was reduced.

Unlike all other spells, Heal does not use the current value of any element score. Instead, it uses your highest pre-combat element score. (Healing skill seems to be closely related to general experience and not specific elemental specialties.)

Interference Spells (Spell or counterspell)
===========================================
Wall of Earth:  stops Earthpower and Firepower    Roll:  Earth
Wall of Fire:   stops Firepower and Woodpower     Roll:  Fire
Wall of Metal:  stops Metalpower and Earthpower   Roll:  Metal
Wall of Water:  stops Waterpower and Metalpower   Roll:  Water
Wall of Wood:   stops Woodpower and Waterpower    Roll:  Wood

Interference magic protects you from future attack spells from your opponent. A Wall affects two types of attacks, as shown above, and will not affect a spell previously cast. When a Wall is created, future successful attacks are immediately reduced point-for-point by the current strength of the Wall. The Wall is also reduced by the incoming attack, point-for-point. If the Wall is reduced to 0 the remaining damage then comes through normally.

(Example: You cast a Wall of Fire. Your Fire score is 42, and you roll 40. The Wall of Fire is now up with strength 40. Your opponent throws Woodpower, successfully, with a roll of 18. The 18 points of damage are reduced to 0 by your Wall, but the Wall is now at 40-18=22 points against later attacks. On a later turn the opponent succeeds with a 31 roll on Firepower. The Wall takes out 22 points (its current strength) and disappears, leaving 9 points of possible damage.)

A wizard may only have one Wall up at a time. If a second Wall is created while an earlier one remains, the wizard must choose immediately which Wall to keep. The other dissolves.

Protection Spell (Counterspell only, never spell)
=================================================
Shield                      Roll:  Element attacked by opponent

A Shield counterspell may only be cast as a counterspell in response to an opponent's successful attack spell. If the Shield casting succeeds, reduce the damage from your opponent's attack spell by the number you rolled. If you rolled a success higher than your opponent's damage you will be unharmed by the attack.

Part Five: The Rewards of Magic

Wizards are ranked according to their dueling experience. (Other non- combat factors certainly exist; they are outside the scope of ArchMage and may be assumed to take place behind the scenes.) A new Acolyte starts at Rank 30.

  Standard Rank Adjustment Table
  ==============================
  +10 Ranks  Become Grandmaster of Wizards (once only)
  + 5 Ranks  Become Master of an Order (once only)
  + 5 Ranks  Defeat opponent rated 30-49 Ranks above you (*)
  + 4 Ranks  Win a duel to the death (plus the usual award for Rank)
  + 4 Ranks  Defeat opponent rated 10-29 Ranks above you (*)
  + 3 Ranks  Defeat opponent rated within 9 Ranks of you (*)
  + 2 Ranks  Each month a Sorcerer fights at least one duel
  + 2 Ranks  Defeat opponent rated 10-29 Ranks below you (*)
  + 1 Rank   Each month an Adept or Magus fights at least one duel
  + 1 Rank   Defeat opponent rated 30-49 Ranks below you (*)
  (*) A loser of a duel subtracts the Ranks the winner gained.

  Acolyte Rank Adjustment Table
  =============================
  + 2 Ranks  Win a student duel, regardless of Ranks
  + 1 Rank   Lose a student duel, regardless of Ranks
  Acolytes never subtract Ranks.

The highest Rank a wizard has ever held is used to determine Magic Points; five MP are earned per Rank. MP may be spent to improve element scores, in accordance with this table repeated from Part One:

  Buying Scores
  =============
  1 MP per point, 16% to 45%
  2 MP per point, 46% to 55%
  4 MP per point, 56% to 65%
  8 MP per point, 66% to 73%

Wizards who have reached Rank 40 (200 MP) are promoted to Sorcerer, and become eligible to serve as Master of their Order. An Order has only one Master at a time. The standards for becoming Master will vary from Order to Order. When each Order gains its third wizard ranked Sorcerer or above, those wizards will establish how that Order selects its Master, subject to the approval of the designer and the Caladonia leadership. No Acolyte may ever be Master.

When three of the five Orders have duly constituted Masters, the regular events to select a Grandmaster shall commence. These will be single elimination knockout events, to subdual, held twice each year and open only to current Masters, the Grandmaster, and ArchMages. The winner becomes Grandmaster of Wizards. Each Order decides for itself if its Master must vacate that post on becoming Grandmaster.

  Wizardly Titles
  ===============
  Grandmaster of Wizards   Winner of a semiannual tourney
  Master of an Order       Varies by order
  ArchMage                 All wizards reaching Rank 100 or higher
  Magus                    All wizards reaching Ranks 80-99
  Adept                    All wizards reaching Ranks 60-79
  Sorcerer                 All wizards reaching Ranks 40-59
  Acolyte                  Wizards who have never attained Rank 40

Titles are granted for life, except for Masters and Grandmasters. An ArchMage who loses a few duels and drops to rank 85 is still an ArchMage.


ArchMage is Copyright © 1994 by Glenn E. Overby II.
All rights reserved. This is version 1.21. Created January 8, 1994 by Glenn Overby.
ArchMage, Fallen Empire, and Story Engine are trademarks owned by Randall Stukey.

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